Best Bastilla - 2008
Saha Arabic Fusion
Although Saha's forte is the cuisine of the Arabian peninsula, the kitchen's interpretation of the North African delicacy bastilla is exceptional. Like its Middle Eastern dishes, this incorporates California-fusion accents that sacrifice none of the dish's singular richness. A cylinder of flaky, buttery phyllo hot from the fryer encloses a luscious filling of almonds, onion, parsley, scrambled egg, and minced chicken, every bite offering an astonishing array of tastes and textures, the merest dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon accenting rather than dominating the proceedings. An unusual and delectable variation is the salmon baklava, in which a thick filet of moist, tender salmon marinated in lime, honey, and mustardseed substitutes for the chicken-egg filling, while a ribbon of walnut-almond-honey pesto adds another layer of contrasting flavors. Saha's setting matches its seductive cuisine: a cozy little den in reds, golds, billowing fabrics, and skylit moonshine.